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is muscial theory really as hard as it seems?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by slickhare, Oct 1, 2005.

  1. It's not that bad!

    54 vote(s)
  2. my head is still spinning!

    13 vote(s)
  3. quit while you're ahead... (???)

    3 vote(s)
  1. slickhare


    Feb 2, 2005
    i've been thumpin away for about a year and a half now and i've only dabbled a bit in reading music and a wee wee WEE bit o' theory. i've got my mechanics pretty much down so i could play a set...provided i have tab. so now i really want to get an instructor and learn some theory. but hearing some people talking about theory makes me wonder if i'm in over my head, cuz it sounds really complex. so am i just spazzin or is it really that difficult?
  2. Aye, if you really want to learn music theory, dedicate yourself to learning it. If you work hard at it and immerse yourself in it by spending time with musician's who know a lot of music theory, one day will come a year or two down the road where it suddenly clicks. Music theory is not simply the study of how chords and notes fit together mathmatically, but why they do, and all the applications of things.
  3. If you're good at math, it'll be easier than it is for me. I'm a math rock.
  4. Ray-man

    Ray-man Guest

    Sep 10, 2005
    1. Buy a cheap keyboard. You'll thank me later.

    2. It's generally referred to as music theory.
  5. Well, I'm a computer science student AND a musician. And I'll make damn sure my sucking at maths won't hold me back:)

    My teacher is working on showing how theory relates to basslines, and how to go beyond that and create your own lines. I know there's a lot to learn, and it will take more then a lifetime to get it all in, but every week I step out of the classroom and feel like I've added one more little piece of knowledge to my 'bag of tricks'. It's a start, and it's not too hard if you try to learn it a little bit at a time. Give it time to sink in.
  6. Oysterman


    Mar 30, 2000
    When do you need math in music? For counting 1, 2, 3, etc. can't be seen as math, can it? :eyebrow:
  7. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    I think one of the key reasons why people get so freaked out about music theory is that they approach it with all this anxiety like "I learn playing, and I learn theory" separating them into two different worlds of study and making it difficult to connect the two, which in turn makes it difficult to see the relevance in learning theory to supplement playing knowledge, or playing to append theory knowledge.

    Basic theory really isn't that difficult to get a grasp on, scales, modes, keys, voice leading, chord construction...etc.

    so much of it is inter-related and it's not too hard to get your head around it if you apply yourself for a while.

    But really, I would advise you to think about WHY you want to study theory, why you feel like it's important to you, and what you want to get out of studying theory. Once you know that, you will be better suited to pursue that study. imo.
  8. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002

    well, it really depends what type of music you're pursuing. If all you're doing is playing simple rock/blues or something, chances are slim you'll ever need to bust out a calculator. But if you're doing process music or complicated poly rhyhtms or music that explores lots of weird meters, music in another intonation system, or music using any number of abnormal methods of creation, you'll be doing a lot more than just counting 1,2,3...etc.

    For instance, I just made a piece of music in 17/16:18/16, it's 18 minutes l long and it incorporates melodies that I derived from thinking about the relationship of numbers to intervals and pitches.

    Go listen to serialist music or any process music of the 20th century really and you will find more 'math' than you can shake an abacus at.

    What's more, the 'math' runs deeper than just playing and application. For every note you hit you can come up with equations and numbers and values and whatever you want. I mean, just think about the overtone series for a bit, there's some complicated math there.
  9. basic music thoery really isn't that hard, you just have to really work at it (like anything else in life)
  10. slickhare


    Feb 2, 2005
    because i want to extend my knowledge and prowess in the low end beyond simply being able to play the bass and move more into understanding it and being able to improv. basically i wanna take it to the next level. i'm really serious about bass and i can't see myself possibly giving it up!
  11. Oysterman


    Mar 30, 2000
    Complicated, I don't know. I think we have totally different perspectives on math - I don't think the fairly simple arithmetics involved in music theory are especially complicated. And most of the time I think the underlying concepts of physics are harder to grasp the mathematics used when working with them (and many times you don't even need to understand the math involved, just use it ;)). And the deeper concepts of music are (to me anyway) more abstract and unintuitive than the act of counting beats and measures (no matter what polyrhythms you throw at me). And the serialist et al. mathematics you bring up, stuff like that is just contrived... to me, that sort of "math" is like it's sprinkled on top of the music, not inherent in it (although composers may think differently ;)). I mean, you could just as well illustrate similar mathematical concepts by stapling beer cans in your living room, so I really don't think it applies.

    IME a minor part of mathematics plays a minor part in music. That's why I think one shouldn't overemphasize its role, since it just might scare people away from learning music theory... everyone hates math, no? ;)
  12. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    I wouldn't overemphasize math in music, because I don't think that it's exactly that big of a deal either. That said, I wouldn't understate the presence of whatever math you want in just about any facet of music you can think of. I think you can take as deep of a mathematical approach to music as you'd like applying whatever advanced concepts and formulas you want successfully and you wouldn't be wrong for doing so.
  13. It's not that hard. It's just that when you hear people discussing theory they're taking stuff you haven't learned yet for granted. Once you get a little under your belt theory discussions won't seem nearly as ineffable.
  14. cowsgomoo

    cowsgomoo gone to Longstanton Spice Museum

    Feb 8, 2003
    I think people have different natural aptitudes for dealing with music theory... just take it at your own pace, and don't beat yourself up too much

    and don't try and learn everything at once! like most things in life, the 90/10 rules apply... to generalise, the first 10% of music theory stuff you will ever learn (basic scale/chord stuff) is the material you'll draw on 90% of the time

    you'll be amazed at how far the basics will take you

    best o luck :bassist:
  15. burntgorilla


    Jan 24, 2005
    I found breaking into music theory quite tricky. You start to learn one thing, but you need to know something else then that it's related to, which leads onto something else... Then, after a point, it all fits together and you can see how it relates to itself, and then it becomes easier.
  16. Ray-man

    Ray-man Guest

    Sep 10, 2005
    A wise teacher once told me that the point of learning all this music theory is so that you can forget it. In other words, it becomes so ingrained in your being that you don't even have to think about it anymore - it just happens. Like riding a bike.

    Keep that in mind during the most difficult of times while you're learning it: I'm learning it so I can forget it. It helps.
  17. I know what you're saying, but I always thought that was a slightly confusing way of putting it. You're not really forgetting this info; if you forget something, you don't know it any more. Which is not what you want here.

    IMO the idea is more that you know the stuff so well that you internalize it and thus don't have to consciously and laboriously call it up every time you want to do something. It's really the opposite of forgetting--it's deep memory, if you will. When you're riding a bike, your body hasn't really forgotten how to do it at all; rather, it remembers how so well that you don't have to spend any conscious energy on telling it what to do.

    I think we're talking about the exact same thing; it's just that I've seen people get confused when you say they're supposed to learn something only to later forget it. ("What? I have to learn all this stuff, and then I'm supposed to forget it? So why should I learn it in the first place? Why don't I save some time and forget it NOW?")
  18. Ray-man

    Ray-man Guest

    Sep 10, 2005
    I guess it's just a little more colloquial way of putting it.
  19. I started out on guitar :bag: and even though I could play a G chord,
    I couldn't tell you that the bottom note of the chord was "G." When I started playing bass, things made sense. After I learned where all the notes were, the flood-gates broke open. Now when I started studying jazz harmony and theory, it took a while to internalize, but then one day
    its like, "Oh! thats how that works!" Its like anything else, you've got to put the time and effort into it to get results.
  20. 7flat5


    Nov 28, 2003
    Upstate NY
    Two thoughts:
    1. It's necessary and worth it.
    2. Maybe the poll needs an "all of the above?"